The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

We’ve all heard the quote before:

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions ~Samuel Johnson

There are many instances where people had the best intentions but ended up either directly or indirectly creating something disastrous in the end.

Zyklon B
Fritz Haber was a Nobel Prize winning Jewish scientist who created an insecticide called Zyklon B.

It became the preferred method of execution in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

Gatling Gun
Richard Jordan Gatling noticed the majority of dead from the American Civil War died of illness, rather than gunshots. He invented the Gatling Gun so that “exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished.”

The Gatling Gun helped expand European colonial empires against natives armed with primitive weapons.

Trinitrotoluene
Joseph Wilbrand was a German chemist who discovered trinitrotoluene in 1863 for use as a yellow dye.

Better known as TNT, it was adopted as an explosive for World War I, World War II and is still in military use today.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine
Anton Köllisch developed methylenedioxymethamphetamine as a by-product of research for a drug to combat abnormal bleeding.

It later became better known as Ecstasy that MDMA labeled as one of the top four illegal drugs because it was killing numerous people.

So, here’s my question…

Ultimately, if someone is doing something wrong and you indirectly contribute, are you guilty by association?

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2 responses to “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

  1. I’m not sure if those are the best examples though…

    Zyklon B wasn’t at fault for the Nazi’s killing 6 million people – the Nazi’s were.

    The Gatlin Gun wasn’t at fault for the greed of European empire expansion or responsible for the extreme technological disadvantage suffered by natives (See the book Guns, Germs and Steel).

    The death toll of MDMA is more closely tied with its banning from therapeutic purposes which drove it underground. Also, the poor economic conditions that drive rebels to deforest areas with the tree needed for the active ingredient.

    And TNT has numerous positive uses for demolition and mining etc. Dynamite got a nobel peace prize.

    So, in my opinion, no the inventors aren’t responsible for the atrocities that followed their technological advancements. The people who used technology for ill purposes are.

    In short, you can’t blame inanimate objects for the dark side of human behavior. The moral questions come to a head when people can clearly see the repercussions of their actions and proceed anyway.

  2. Okay, I’ll give you that those examples may have not been the best ones to prove my point, so I’m going to try a Biblical reference (shock).

    Remember when Jesus was walking through the temple and people were selling things within the walls? He could have walked passed and ignored it because he wasn’t doing anything morally wrong, but he took a stand against what they were doing.

    So, if we realize that something is wrong and we choose to “turn the other cheek”, are we less responsible or immoral because we didn’t do anything directly wrong?

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